The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of gear

Best Luggage Tag of 2021

We beat up these tags so you'll know what you're in for BEFORE getting...
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg
By Maggie Brandenburg ⋅ Senior Review Editor
Friday December 11, 2020
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Looking for a new luggage tag for your bag? We researched scores of contenders, selecting this lineup of the 10 best luggage tags of 2021. We used and abused them to see which ones can handle the perils of travel, twisting covers, pulling corners, and scratching plastic. We wrote on them with pen and marker to see which have enough space and which smear. We considered privacy flaps, tested smart tag extras, and evaluated design options. In doing so, we've found which tags are best for keeping your information private, keeping it pretty, and keeping it with your bag.

1

Best Overall Luggage Tag


ProudGuy TUFFTAAG Business Card Holder Travel ID


ProudGuy TUFFTAAG Business Card Holder Travel ID
Editors' Choice Award

$9.99
at Amazon
See It

Main Material: Unspecified "rustproof metal" | Tag Size: 4.1" x 2.3"
Can take a serious beating
Optional tinted privacy window included
Fits business cards
Easily visible and comes in many colors
Corners may scratch certain bag materials
Large overhang may cover business card info

Through all our testing and comparisons — and even up against several other metal tags — the ProudGuy TUFFTAAG proves itself an exceptional luggage tag. It's very difficult to bend the thick, strong metal that is truly meant to take a beating, living up to its name. The TUFFTAAG is large enough to hold a standard business card and be easily visible at baggage claim. It comes with two optional display windows: clear and tinted. The tinted version does a great job keeping your personal info from prying eyes while remaining readable. This classy-looking metal tag comes in an astonishing rainbow of colors and can be purchased in two-packs for matching luggage sets. The braided steel cable is one of the sturdiest we tested, helping it to better stay attached to your bag.

However, as with any steel cable, it's not infallible and can be rattled loose to fall off your bag (we discuss below how to help mitigate this). While you can fit a business card into this tag, the extensive metal border that holds your information secure also cover a significant portion of the card margins, which could be an issue for certain business cards that print information right up to the edges. There's a lot of space within the tag, so you may want to insert an extra piece of paper behind your info to keep it from rattling and tilting in transit. And though the metal edges aren't particularly sharp, they can damage sensitive bag materials like leather. These minor inconveniences aside, the TUFFTAAG is the hardiest tag we tested, offering both security of your personal information and of the tag itself.

Size of Information Window: 2.9" x 1.75"
Cable Type/Length: Braided steel, 6" loop

Number in Tested Set: 1 (also available in a 2-pack)

There's so much to love about this super sturdy metal tag, from its...
There's so much to love about this super sturdy metal tag, from its ability to hold business cards and obscure information to its attractive, durable metal body and cable.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

2

Best Bang for Your Buck


TravelMore Silicone Luggage Tags


TravelMore Silicone Luggage Tags
Best Buy Award

$8.99
at Amazon
See It

Main Material: PVC silicone | Tag Size: 4.25" x 2.3"
Surprisingly strong and stretchy
Very visible and easy to read
Great value
Not the best aesthetic
Difficult to remove and insert card

The inexpensive TravelMore Silicone tags are an easy choice for a good value purchase. On top of that, these simple, straightforward labels surpassed our expectations for their durability and performance, making them an excellent choice for travel. The PVC silicone cables are shockingly stretchy — ours more than doubled in length during testing and then shrank back to their original appearance when we let off pressure — and it took a LOT of pressure to get them to stretch that far. Though we did eventually batter them enough to snap, it took much more effort to do so than many others we tested. The bright colors make these easy to identify your bags among many identical options. And if your luggage is lost, it's easy for an employee to see your information quickly and return your bags promptly.

Of course, these fluorescent labels aren't the most elegant aesthetic if you're not into super bright colors. And though they surpassed our expectations in terms of their strength and security, they're still soft PVC silicone that can be ripped off with enough force. The flexible material is also rather clingy to the ID card inside, making it more challenging to remove it to update your information. Additionally, ours grabbed some of the ink from the cards, transferring it to the inside of the tag even after we removed the paper. The long attachment loops help the TravelMore to wrap around thicker handles but may also leave them dangling far enough off of your suitcase to be caught in baggage machinery. These things aside, if you need plenty of bright, simple tags to get your belongings safely from A to B, it's hard to beat the value of these uncomplicated, flexible ID badges.

Size of Information Window: 3.6" x 2.3"
Cable Type/Length: PVC silicone, 6.75"

Number in Tested Set: 7 (also available in a 14-pack)

What they lack in elegance, these simple, inexpensive tags make up...
What they lack in elegance, these simple, inexpensive tags make up for with ease of use and more strength than we expected.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

3

Best Flexible Tag


Shacke Luggage Tags with Privacy Cover


Shacke Luggage Tags with Privacy Cover
Top Pick Award

$7.99
at Amazon
See It

Main Material: Rubber | Tag Size: 4.75" x 2.6"
Large, brightly colored, and very visible
Privacy flap still allows access when needed
Flexible yet thick and surprisingly sturdy
Very large and clunky
Inner window is poorly attached

We tested numerous flexible luggage tags, both with and without privacy flaps, and the Shacke rubber tags are our favorite. Their thick rubber body is flexible without being nearly as breakable as so many others. Even the privacy flap, which can easily be ripped off of other tags with bare hands, is much stronger and more securely attached. It also stays securely closed, resisting becoming warped by repeated twisting and tugging while still allowing easy access to your information in the event your bag actually gets lost. It's one of the largest tags we tested and comes in several bright colors that help you easily identify your bag from a lineup of seemingly identical cases. Shacke also makes several other designs (that we didn't test) in case this one doesn't suit your style.

Of course, this oversized tag is a bit clunky and on the heavy side (for a light piece of gear). And although the durability of its rubber form with metal grommets is better than other flexible tags we tested, it's not unbreakable. Additionally, we found the interior window protecting your information isn't attached as well as we'd like to see and can be ripped out of the tag — though you have to actively try to do this, and we think it's pretty unlikely it would happen during routine, untampered-with travel. Yet if you want a flexible tag that doesn't show your information to casual bystanders, we solidly recommend the thick, easily visible Shacke rubber tag.

Size of Visible Information Window: 4.1"(full)/3.5"(to hole) x 2.0"
Cable Type/Length: Braided steel, 7" loop

Number in Tested Set: 2

The Shacke rubber tag is flexible, visible, and easy to use, and we...
The Shacke rubber tag is flexible, visible, and easy to use, and we appreciate the addition of the privacy cover.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

4

Best for Unique Designs


Art of Travel Neoprene Designer Luggage Tags


Art of Travel Neoprene Designer Luggage Tags
Top Pick Award

$10.18
(36% off)
at Amazon
See It

Main Material: Neoprene | Tag Size: 4.75" x 2.75"
Rotating selection of artists' unique works
Single neoprene piece
Clear info card adds privacy
Card window can be ripped off
Construction could be cleaner

For something that truly stands out from the crowd, you can't go wrong with an Art of Travel Neoprene Designer tag. These single-piece, fully fabric labels are different not only in their unusual construction and materials but also because each one is designed by an artist. A rotating stock of unique designs keeps things fresh, and you can read about the artist that designed your tag. Made of a single piece of neoprene, these durable and flexible tags can twist and stretch with ease. The ID card is clear, helping your personal information fade into the background, making it harder for passersby to learn your home address. Though the pocket enclosing this card is open on top, it helpfully clings to the plastic card within, holding it safely inside through your travels.

However, the clear pocket is also rather easy to rip off by hand — or by catching against something scraping by your bag. Fortunately, the eccentric designs of these tags can still help you identify your luggage on the carousel, though without your name, lost bags become much more challenging to return. The chunky neoprene construction looks a bit like something you'd give to a child and features large stitching and some seams that are less than elegant. While we think the construction could be cleaner and the ID tag could be more securely attached, we still love the many cool designs of these super-soft, quirky Art of Travel tags.

Size of Visible Information Window: 2.95" x 1.9"
Cable Type/Length: Neoprene, 4.5" (all one piece)

Number in Tested Set: 2

It's hard to find a more unique tag than the many exciting...
It's hard to find a more unique tag than the many exciting artist-designed options on these fully neoprene tags.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

5

Best Luggage Return Service


ReturnMe Smart Luggage ID Tags


ReturnMe Smart Luggage ID Tags
Top Pick Award

$16.99
at Amazon
See It

Main Material: Epoxy-domed metal | Tag Size: 2.0" circle
Ideal for privacy lovers
Discreet and very durable
Connects you to a return service for lost luggage
No way to display any personal info
Relies on the finder to use the return service

While every luggage tag can be outfitted with whatever information you do or do not want to display, the ReturnMe Smart tags are the only ones we tested that show zero information to anyone who checks your bags. These smart markers are connected to a website return service that allows the finder to return your bag to you free of charge (for the sender) — or you can both choose to meet up to return the bag in person for free. While you can select from several optional service plans, the base return service is available to use, free of charge, but does charge you for the actual return of your items. However, this fee of $25-$50 is probably worth it to have your entire suitcase full of belongings returned to you. In the meantime, the finder can only see your email address using your online profile. These 2" circular tags are also extremely durable and far more discreet than most others, making them a great choice for smaller bags you may travel with.

We love the idea of a return service for all our bags, but we can't recommend checking a bag without any sort of personal information on it. Instead, the ReturnMe tags are a great option for bags you typically keep with you, like a purse or laptop bag. This seemingly magical return service also relies on the finder taking the time to follow the instructions leading them to the ReturnMe website and input their information to arrange a pick up for your found items. While we would hope people would do this out of the kindness of their hearts, busy baggage handlers are unlikely to have the time to go through such a process. Still, by pairing this tag's service with a regular name-wielding label, you're more likely to have your bases covered. If you appreciate the extra security of a third party return service, this little smart tag is a great choice.

Size of Visible Information Window: N/A
Cable Type/Length: Braided steel, 4.9" loop

Number in Tested Set: 2 (also available as a single)

These small epoxy-coated metal smart tags have no personal...
These small epoxy-coated metal smart tags have no personal information on them but can help you get your bags back if lost.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

6

Most Customizable Information


Dynotag Web Enabled Smart Luggage ID Tag


Dynotag Web Enabled Smart Luggage ID Tag

$14.95
(7% off)
at Amazon
See It

Main Material: Anodized Aluminum | Tag Size: 4.1" x 2.3"
Smart tag that can also display personal information
Strong and durable
Attaches your information online and helps locate when your bag is scanned
Online service is just information
Location services rely on the finder to scan QR code and allow their location to be sent to you

Another smart tag, the Dynotag Web Enabled ID, takes a different approach to demonstrate its "smarts." Rather than a return service, like the ReturnMe tag provides, the Dynotag allows you to create an online stash of information attached to your bags. This free-for-life online profile helps you connect a slew of information to any tag connected to your account, from extra contact information to photos to full documents of anything you may want to upload, including travel itineraries or information on medical equipment you may be traveling with. A large, obvious QR code on the back quickly takes any smartphone user to your online profile (where you control what information is visible to viewers) while simultaneously alerting you by email that your tag has been scanned. There's also a website on the tag for users who are less QR code-savvy. If the finder has location services enabled on their phone or web browser, the GPS coordinates of where your bag was scanned are included in the email alert you receive. And for the variable circumstances in which someone may not want to visit your online profile, this aluminum tag also has a standard window that easily displays all the information you'd put on a regular tag.

The plethora of information and GPS location sent to you when your tag is scanned all work great — when it works. If the finder even bothers to scan your bag, they still may have location services disabled on their phone or computer (or have clicked "Disallow" when a strange website called Dynotag asked to access their location). Without location services, the alert email you'll receive merely includes an IP address. Reverse tracking only narrows down your bag's possible location to an entire city, which is far less helpful in actually locating your bag. We also found the website to be a bit clumsy and difficult to navigate, which likely lowers someone's chances of feeling safe enough to use it to find you and return your bag. But we really like that this tag has both — easy information display right on the sturdy metal body and back up info with some tracking ability. This combo lets you have the best of both regular and smart tag worlds, which we really like.

Size of Visible Information Window: 2.9" x 1.75"
Cable Type/Length: Braided steel, 4.9" loop

Number in Tested Set: 1

The Dynotag smart tag is dual function, offering internet...
The Dynotag smart tag is dual function, offering internet information storage services, limited tracking ability, and a full information window.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

7

A Subtle Metal Tag


Travelambo Aluminum Luggage Tags


Travelambo Aluminum Luggage Tags

$3 List
List Price
See It

Main Material: Aluminum alloy | Tag Size: 3.1" x 1.75"
Smaller, attractive-looking metal
Design only displays your name
Lightweight but decently durable
Have to remove from bag to read other info
Edges around display window can be caught and bent

If you're searching for a more durable luggage tag that only shows your name and isn't massive, the Travelambo Aluminum may be just the ticket. These bargain-friendly bag tags are smaller than a business card, leaving only your name visible to prying eyes. Their aluminum sides prevent anyone from lifting them up to read your home address as your bag circles on the claim belt. They're lightweight and small, offering a much more subtle, dignified aesthetic than many of the large bright options. Their metal skeletons help them to better withstand being tugged and battered in transit, and they come in a wide variety of colors and packs of up to 10.

Yet compared to the many metal tags we tested, these are the easiest to bend out of shape. Both ends of the tag are open, leaving plenty of edges and corners to catch and snag. We were able to rather easily bend the thin sides up to read and even remove the ID tag within. The steel cable also comes loose after prolonged rattling, meaning they could fall off. Without disfiguring the entire tag, the only way to access additional contact information is to remove the whole thing and pull out the ID card. While this is secure, it's also sure to be unappreciated and potentially unused by busy, harried baggage claim employees. However, the smaller size, added privacy, and extra metallic durability are features that we appreciate, and the price is certainly right.

Size of Visible Information Window: 3.1" x 0.3"
Cable Type/Length: Braided steel, 6" loop

Number in Tested Set: 2 (also available in packs of 5 or 10)

This aluminum option from Travelambo is easy to use and makes it...
This aluminum option from Travelambo is easy to use and makes it difficult for strangers to access your contact information.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

8

Solid Value and Lots of Options


Casmonal Luggage Tags


Casmonal Luggage Tags

$8.99
at Amazon
See It

Main Material: Unspecified "faux leather" | Tag Size: 4.75" x 2.6"
Classic look and design
Privacy flap that is easily moved when needed
Plenty of color and design options
Scratches and gets twisted easily
Easy to rip open and off

The Casmonal luggage tags are a classic option for a low price. They feature a privacy window that keeps your information from being casually seen yet still easily accessible to anyone truly trying to return your bag. The "faux leather" body (likely some sort of polyurethane material) is flexible yet holds its shape in transit and offers a pleasing aesthetic for just about any bag. Available in a plethora of colors and several other designs, Casmonal has lots of appealing looks for the discerning traveler wishing to keep their personal information private.

However, when it comes to durability, this tag falls short of most others we tested. We easily ripped the privacy cover off of the metal cable by hand and found it all too easy to warp this synthetic tag by simply twisting. It's also the only one we tested who's cable broke during our yanking tests. The metal grommets don't add much strength to a fairly unimpressive, soft tag and the whole thing scratches quite readily. If you're searching for a durable tag, we're not convinced the Casmonal is up to the challenge of doing much more than helping you look good while you travel, but it'll work in a pinch and is better than those paper tags offered by the airline.

Size of Visible Information Window: 4.25" x 2.0"
Cable Type/Length: Braided steel, 6" loop

Number in Tested Set: 2 (also available in packs of 4, 5, 8, or 10)

While we like the look of the Casmonal, we found its durability less...
While we like the look of the Casmonal, we found its durability less inspiring.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

9

Small and Soft


Ovener Silicon Travel Luggage Tags


Ovener Silicon Travel Luggage Tags

$7.99
at Amazon
See It

Main Material: Silicone | Tag Size: 3.5" x 1.95"
Soft and flexible
Small and understated; not such an eyesore
Can access full contact info by lifting silicone edges
Silicone is weak and rips easily
Limited color and design options

If you want a tag that's bold without being huge, limits the visibility of your personal information, and is a reasonable price, the Ovener Silicon Travel Tags may be just what you want. These silicone-bodied tags are smaller than an average business card and come in primary colors with a simple white airplane on the back, helping them to be easily identifiable in a lineup without taking over the entire aesthetic of your luggage. A small window displays only your name (or whatever you write on that line), while the flexible silicone allows the sides to be pulled up when in need, avoiding the hassle of a baggage claim employee needing to remove the entire thing just to find your address or phone number. It comes with a braided steel cable and in matching packs of 2 or 5.

As much as we love the look and feel of this silky smooth silicone, it's not the strongest material we tested. Even compared to other flexible tags, this one proved to be quite simple to rip apart without much effort. While this smaller tag may be less likely to catch on baggage equipment, its long metal cable and supple sides counteract that, making us worried this tag could disappear in transit. But if you're willing to gamble on this soft silicone-sided tag by attaching it somewhere that's less likely to dangle into dangerous machines, you may just love its smaller size and velvety feel.

Size of Visible Information Window: 2.2" x 0.3"
Cable Type/Length: Braided steel, 7" loop

Number in Tested Set: 2 (also available in a 5-pack)

Though the Ovener Silicone displays only your name, an airline...
Though the Ovener Silicone displays only your name, an airline employee can easily access your contact information in the event they need to return your lost bag.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

10

Simple Faux Leather Option


Travelambo Leather Luggage Bag Tags


Travelambo Leather Luggage Bag Tags

$8.99
at Amazon
See It

Main Material: Polyurethane "faux leather" | Tag Size: 4.5" x 2.6"
Tons of colors and options
Leather-looking
Easy privacy flap
Privacy flap is not secured; can get caught
Quite easy to tear off bag

Searching for a leather-looking luggage tag without the hefty price or animal parts? Despite having "leather" right in the name, the Travelambo Leather Bag Tag is a polyurethane badge made to look like leather. The buckled attachment strap adds to the aesthetic appeal of this simple yet effective tag. It's a classic look that's a bit more stylish than most other tags we tested, yet is easily acquired for a surprisingly low price. A simple, untethered security flap helps keep your information more private but still accessible when needed. And it's available in a seriously impressive number of colors to match just about any piece of luggage.

While we like the look of this leather-appearing tag, we think it's rather misleading to include "leather" in the name of a non-leather product. And when we put this tag through our assorted durability tests, it failed to impress us. The body of the tag and privacy tag both remained disfigured after our twisting and yanking, severely lowering the aesthetic value and leaving some of our personal information exposed. When pressed to stay attached, the buckled strap ripped right through the unreinforced, soft polyurethane body. And the buckle itself fell short of our expectations, easily coming unbuckled by tugging the end of the strap, allowing the whole thing to fall right off our bag. As much as we really like the initial look, vibe, and price of the faux leather Travelambo, it falls too far short of our durability desires for us to recommend it for serious travel.

Size of Visible Information Window: 3.0" x 1.9"
Cable Type/Length: Polyurethane "faux leather", 7" usable loop

Number in Tested Set: 2 (also available in packs of 4 or 8)

These faux leather tags from Travelambo can fit a standard business...
These faux leather tags from Travelambo can fit a standard business card if you so choose.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Why You Should Trust Us


The process of rigorously testing luggage tags is led by Senior Review Editor, Maggie Brandenburg. Maggie has been traveling both personally and professionally for decades, carting backpacks, roller bags, duffels, and trunks around the world and back. She's spent numerous summers traveling to remote corners of Africa and South America via plane, bus, taxi, and boat to research teaching hands-on study abroad experiences. This involved navigating rugged terrain with dozens of luggage-bearing students in tow. All told, Maggie has had to keep track of thousands of pieces of luggage over the years and knows the value of a good quality bag tag to help you keep or find your belongings. She also leads our carry-on luggage review.

After spending hours researching and selecting the most promising candidates, we purchased all of them for thorough testing. We simulated all the perils of travel at home under controlled, sometimes brutal conditions. We wrote on each tag with regular pens and markers, attached them to different bags, and considered all the many color and design options they're available in. We rolled bags over long stretches of pavement to see if tags would loosen, we picked at display windows and yanked on privacy covers, and we pulled and twisted to see which tags could hack it and which would break (and several of them did). We abused these tags extensively to determine which can handle the worst travel disasters and which are simple bag decorations.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

Analysis and Test Results


As is our way here at GearLab, we went above and beyond in our testing of these tiny, often overlooked pieces of essential travel gear. We broke our testing down into four metrics to assess all aspects. By combining each tag's performance in Strength, Security, Ease of Use, and Aesthetics, we created an overall picture of their individual strengths and weaknesses. What follows is the breakdown of these metrics, teasing them all apart to showcase which bag tags stand out where.

An easy visual comparison of the overall sizes and information each...
An easy visual comparison of the overall sizes and information each model displays.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Strength


Luggage tags have to potentially stand up to a lot of abuse, especially if you plan to check your bag at the airport. We put these tags through some equally tough testing to see if they're up to the challenge. By scouring the internet for testimonials, we generated a pool of the many things that could go wrong with each one and put them to the test. We twisted and folded, tried to bend metal components, picked at edges, yanked on privacy covers, and checked the integrity of corners. We scratched them, banged them up, and scuffed them. We tested every cable, twisting and pulling on them and even putting the full weight of our bodies into trying to rip them apart. We were extra harsh to these tags because the machines they're expected to run through and survive can be harsh too.

Displaying Your Personal Information

Figuring out what information to include on your ID tag can be challenging. The key is to balance two competing requirements: making it easy for your bags to be returned to you if they get lost while making it difficult for total strangers to have access to all your personal information. While there is no single "right" formula for exactly what you should put on your tag, we recommend that at least your name be visible somewhere on the bag (even if it's hidden under a privacy flap).

Ideally, additional information that can help airlines or hotels contact you when the bag has been found should also be on the tag. However, if you're not comfortable displaying your phone number or home address to the world, we get it. Consider simply writing your name and "See Reverse for Details" to at least cue others into looking further to find your contact info. There's the chance that a rushed baggage claim employee may not have time to pull apart your tag to find your cell number, but at least they know your name, and if they can't find you right away, they know what they can do to get ahold of you.

As you might expect, the metal luggage tags proved themselves to be some of the strongest options available. Yet even among the numerous metal models, we found significant differences. The ProudGuy TUFFTAAG performed the best. It's made of thick metal that's very resistant to being bent, and its steel cable is thicker than many others, stays shut better than most, and comes with a second one to back it up. The ReturnMe smart tag is also exceptionally durable, with an epoxy dome covering its metal interior. The aluminum Dynotag smart tag is also fairly sturdy, though thinner than the similarly designed TUFFTAAG and with a thinner steel cable.

The TUFFTAAG lives up to its name, though isn't immune to cosmetic...
The TUFFTAAG lives up to its name, though isn't immune to cosmetic scratches.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

As for non-metal tags, the Shacke rubber tag is impressive in its ability to withstand becoming deformed or destroyed by external forces. With holes protected by metal grommets, this full rubber tag easily withstood our efforts to twist it out of shape and rip off pieces. Though they aren't immune to breaking, the TravelMore Silicone tags surprised us by easily twisting and the cable stretching to double its original length, then returning to its original size. The Art of Travel tag is a single piece of neoprene, offering flexibility and elasticity without breaking - though the actual information window proved a bit less indestructible.

The single-piece, neoprene Art of Travel tag is quite durable and...
The single-piece, neoprene Art of Travel tag is quite durable and won't flop around in transit as much as many others.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Security


To assess the security of each tag, we considered two kinds of security — the security of your personal information and the security of their attachment to your luggage. We evaluated what information shows and how difficult it is to access additional information in the event your bag is actually lost. We picked and scratched at our tags to see if the information cards could be easily destroyed or lost in transit. And we tested how easily the tags could come off your luggage — not break off, but come undone, unthreaded, or otherwise simply fall off. We rolled and carried travel bags to simulate the bumping, jarring, and rattling they will experience in transit and checked tag tightness.

Using a Braided Steel Cable

Steel cables are a very popular way to attach luggage tags. While the braided metal fibers are almost certainly stronger than most plastic or fabric attachment options, they're not without their flaws. They can be difficult to fully close and may also rattle loose in transit, simply falling off your luggage. Not helpful.

To more easily secure your steel cable, press the threaded end back along the length of the cable until they are parallel. This should make screwing the gate closed much easier, helping to make it much more secure. But even the tightest threading can vibrate itself loose as you race to your next gate.

There are many great options to help stop your steel loop from coming undone. One of the simplest is to tightly wrap the closed gate and wire on either side with electric tape to prevent it from moving. If you have the right thin tape, you can also apply a small layer to the thread before fastening it. If you're ready to commit to permanently using your baggage tag, you may also use pliers to squeeze the metal gate, effectively clamping it tight on the steel cable. Of course, if the information on your tag can only be accessed by taking the cable out to read the card, this method isn't a good option.

Make your life easier with this simple method of opening a braided...
Make your life easier with this simple method of opening a braided steel luggage cable.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

In terms of information security, the ReturnMe protects your privacy the most. This smart tag displays not one bit of personal information and the website it's attached to gives only your email address away to the finder. The ProudGuy TUFFTAAG also offers above-average security without removing the ability to access your contact information when it's really needed. This hefty tag comes with two plastic window covers: one is clear while the other is darkly tinted, obscuring your information from casual glances, yet is still readable upon closer inspection. Depending on what design you choose, the Art of Travel Designer tags can also mask your personal information — your info goes on a clear card in front of a busy artist-created background.

When it comes to privacy, the ReturnMe reigns supreme and is a great...
When it comes to privacy, the ReturnMe reigns supreme and is a great choice for your carry-on item or purse that you don't need to check but also don't want to lose.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Luggage tags that only display some of your information while leaving the rest more difficult to access also offer additional privacy. The Shacke, Casmonal, and Travelambo Leather tags all have full privacy flaps covering all your information. While the Travelambo's flap is unsecured, both the Shacke and Casmonal covers are held in place by the secured steel cables, requiring the additional effort of bending them open to see your personal information. The Ovener Silicone and Travelambo Aluminum both only display your name to the casual observer, though the Ovener's soft sides can be easily lifted to read additional contact info when needed.

The Shacke covers all your personal information from prying eyes...
The Shacke covers all your personal information from prying eyes, without hampering access too much for when your bag is actually lost.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

None of the tags we tested are impossible to lose, though some are certainly more secure than others. The ProudGuy TUFFTAAG comes with not one but two hefty steel cables that proved themselves the most resistant to rattling open during transit. The simple silicone loop of the TravelMore tag also does an above-average job of keeping attached to your bag, as to remove it, you have to thread the entire tag back through the loop — difficult to do by accident. The Art of Travel tag attaches using a similar method, though its smaller and more flexible body is a bit easier to be pushed back through the hole, which could result in the whole thing falling off your bag.

The clear ID card in the Art of Travel tag helps keep your personal...
The clear ID card in the Art of Travel tag helps keep your personal info obscured on a busy background - available but not immediately obvious to casual bystanders.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Ease of Use


To evaluate every tag's ease of use, we considered all aspects of their usage. We filled out cards with a ballpoint pen and a permanent marker to see if they write well or smudge — and if a long address even fits on the card. We checked to see if the tags are business card compatible, if it's easy to update your contact info in the event of a move, and considered the size of the tag. We also assessed their visibility as an easy identifier on a baggage claim belt, taking into account their overall size, color and design options, and uniqueness.

How NOT to Lose Your Luggage Tag

One of the most frequent complaints about these little floppy travel companions that we read online is that they never even make it to their destination and are instead lost somewhere in transit. In lieu of some nefarious airline employee cackling as they steal hundreds of bag tags (which we're pretty sure isn't happening), it's all too easy for tags to fall or be ripped off in the heavy machinery that makes the baggage claim system work.

You can do several things to combat this loss of identification. First, if you're using a braided steel cable, scroll back up and read our previous tip on how best to secure them. If you have another type of attachment, make sure it is also secure. We recommend permanently attaching tags to your bags whenever possible.

Consider the placement of your tag carefully. If it hangs too far off the side of your bag, it's quite likely to get caught in the machinery, which will most likely rip it right off, no matter how well it's attached. Instead, try placing it on the side of your bag most likely to face upwards when tossed onto a baggage belt. This should stop it from dangling too far into the place of no tag return. If you can shorten its leash while still securing it adequately to your bag, even better.

Though the many types of tags we tested come with a wide range of ID cards to fill out, we had no issues doing so with either a ballpoint pen or fine-tipped permanent marker and had no problems with smeared writing. However, using a gel pen or rollerball pen is very likely to result in smudging, as most cards are some level of glossy, which doesn't soak up those inks, letting them linger on the surface to be smudged as you put them back into the tag. Try to avoid using those types of pens when filling out your information. Several models we tested are also business card compatible, though their extensive margins may cover information located very close to the edge of your card. The ProudGuy TUFFTAAG, Dynotag Web Enabled smart tag, and Travelambo Leather tags are all the right size and shape to accommodate a business card.

The TUFFTAAG is the right size for your business card, though it may...
The TUFFTAAG is the right size for your business card, though it may cover printing close to the margins.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

When it comes to visibility, bright colors and large tags will help you to quickly locate your bag in a sea of identical suitcases. The Shacke luggage tag is among the largest we tested, and its bright colors are very easy to see coming down the belt. The TravelMore Silicone comes in a rainbow of fluorescent hues that stick out readily from the rest. The large metal body of the ProudGuy TUFFTAAG is also rather obvious to spot in baggage claim. And though it's a smaller tag, the Art of Travel Designer is extra visible both because of its unique design and overall length. The bold colors and contrasting white airplane silhouette of the Ovener also help this little tag to be fairly obvious from a distance.

It's hard NOT to spot the fluorescent TravelMore tags.
It's hard NOT to spot the fluorescent TravelMore tags.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Aesthetics


Though much of the aesthetic appeal of any piece of gear is rather subjective, we considered the general appeal and available options of each tag in this metric. We appraised color and finish options, design patterns, and their overall look. We judged how they appear when attached to a bag and the elegance or awkwardness of their profiles, as well as what types of handles and attachment points they can be fixed to. We also checked to see how many you can buy in a pack in case you want to outfit all your pieces of luggage with matching tags.

What's a Smart Tag?
Unfortunately, there's no simple answer to this question. "Smart tags" might do many different things, and at their most basic definition, they offer some sort of extra functionality in addition to the physical tag you attach to your luggage. We'll run through a few common types here.
  • Bluetooth trackers are increasingly popular. These battery-powered tags work by connecting to your phone to tell you their location. While this is great for finding lost keys around your house, if you lose your luggage at some point during a 3-leg journey, all you'll know is the last spot your phone was connected to your luggage, which may or may not be where it currently is. We don't recommend these as a solo ID tag for your luggage because of this limited functionality and the likelihood that they may run out of battery in transit.
  • QR code or website enabled tags are variable and only marginally better. These tags direct the finder to scan a QR code or visit a website listed on the tag. What that website can do beyond that is incredibly variable from one type of tag to another. We tested two of this style. One allows you to attach boatloads of web-accessible information to your tags and sends you an email whenever your tag is scanned. The email will include GPS coordinates of where it was scanned if the person scanning it has enabled location services on their device. If they haven't, it sends an IP address instead, which can only be narrowed down to a city — not that helpful in finding your luggage. The other tag of this type that we tested gives the finder an easy way to return your luggage. They'll send a package delivery service to pick up the item from the finder and return it to you (you'll pay a fee, of course), without divulging any of your personal information to the finder. While either of these may be slightly appealing, they both still rely on the finder to take several extra steps to use a potentially clunky website and track you down.
  • RFID tags are similar to website enabled tags but require the finder to have a special RFID reader, which most people won't have.
  • Fully tracking tags also exist. These tags work by connecting to cell towers around them to be able to pinpoint your luggage no matter where it goes, as long as it's within cellular range. These tags are expensive and often require an additional monthly fee. And, to be perfectly honest, it's a little bit alarming and stalker-ish as to how much data they can collect and transmit to anyone about their whereabouts. Because of their high costs and high potential for misuse, we can't really recommend these types of products.

If you do choose to add a smart tag to your luggage, take the time to read about what that "smartness" actually does for you. And don't rely on other people to use it - we recommend you also have some basic information about yourself (even just your name) on your bags when you travel, as this is the most likely way they'll get returned to you.

The Art of Travel Designer tags are diverse, unique, and overall some of the coolest luggage labels we've ever seen. The interesting designs are one of their main attractions, and we think the hype is well-deserved. The available designs fluctuate and change over time, with something to speak to just about everyone. For a more classic, upscale appearance, the simple metal exterior and rainbow of colors of the ProudGuy TUFFTAAG is another excellent choice.

This small aluminum tag from Travelambo doesn't take over the entire...
This small aluminum tag from Travelambo doesn't take over the entire look of your luggage, while still clearly identifying it as yours.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

We're big fans of the Travelambo Aluminum tags, with their brushed metallic colors and small size. Travelambo also makes a huge variety of other types of bag tags. We also tested the Travelambo Leather (not real leather; polyurethane), which we like the look of and the color selection. And though it's only available in a limited selection of colors, the solid-shade, small silicone Ovener is fairly easy on the eyes and doesn't overwhelm most bags.

Whether you need a tag that looks great or one that's...
Whether you need a tag that looks great or one that's indestructible, we did the work to find the perfect option for you.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Conclusion


Figuring out what luggage tag will be the best fit for your next trip goes so far beyond just what it looks like. And by the time you've lost that bag tag, it's too late. It's our hope that by doing some seriously ruthless testing on these tags, we can help you identify the best ID carrier for your baggage.

Maggie Brandenburg